The coal cost crossover: economic viability of existing coal compared to new local wind and solar resources

America has officially entered the “coal cost crossover” – where existing coal is increasingly more expensive than cleaner alternatives. Today, local wind and solar could replace approximately 74 percent of the U.S. coal fleet at an immediate savings to customers. By 2025, this number grows to 86 percent of the coal fleet. This analysis complements existing research into the costs of clean energy undercutting coal costs, by focusing on which coal plants could be replaced locally (within 35 miles of the existing coal plant) at a saving. It suggests local decision-makers should consider plans for a smooth shut-down of these old plants— assessing their options for reliable replacement of that electricity, as well as financial options for communities dependent on those plants. Ultimately, this report begins a longer conversation about the most cost-effective replacement for coal, which may include combinations of local or remote wind, solar, transmission, storage, and demand response.

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